By Ambreen G Iqbal
Where did it all go so wrong? One minute we were burning bras, united in our yearning for equality, unanimous in our desire for a voice. Standing at picket lines, staring misogynistic society right in the eye and refusing to back down. The next, well – flash-forward to present day and feminism is unofficially the new naughty word in town.
Feminism appears to have reverted, turn coated on the very values and principles it was founded on. Instead we are faced with an increasingly elitist movement, which has taken to picking and choosing who has the right to call themselves a feminist.
Female society has become wary of the very concept created to help them. Instead, many of us refuse to publicly out ourselves as feminists for fear of being labeled as men hating, permanently PMS-ing females. I won’t lie, if ever asked, I would tentatively describe myself as a feminist, then quickly and firmly add ‘of sorts’ at the end. Because although I have no plans of interrupting catwalk shows, topless with slogans smeared across my upper body, that doesn’t mean I’m ok with the world as it is.
Unity has gone out of the window along with the poodle perm (thank heavens), the only sisterhood we amount to is occasionally buying out the local supermarkets junk food aisle and watching chick lit on Film4 together. Instead of the ‘ride or die’ with our girlfriends mantra, which though embarrassing, did get the point across; it’s now ‘every woman for themselves’. There’s no need for men to sabotage our efforts, because we females are far superior at the job. Take Beyoncé, household name and ultimate diva/mother/wife extraordinaire; now recall the general outcry that follows when she describes herself as a feminist. She’s often deemed by ‘proper’ feminists as a product of misogynistic society, a woman who has conformed to the ideals determined by men and has proved this by gyrating occasionally (read: a lot) on stage, on film, in pictures (if that’s possible).
Who says that we have the right to decide who is a feminist and who isn’t? At the heart of the feminist movement there has always been the yearning for equality, all we want is to be treated as equals, to not have our paycheck automatically deducted because we are women, to not be considered as emotionally, physically and mentally weaker from the moment we are born.
Sadly, this is an epidemic. Women and girls all over the world are still being treated as second-class citizens. Some do not have the power to do much about it, perhaps that’s why Malala Yousafzi has become such an icon for the struggles of young girls in Eastern countries. Maybe it’s time we all take a leaf out of her book and support her cause, our cause in whatever way we can and if that means uniting instead of competing amongst ourselves then we should all get stuck in, right now.
Ambreen is a final year English and History student at MMU. Follow her on twitter @AmbreenGharshia